The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber held a Waterloo Mayoral Candidates Forum on Wednesday, October 21st at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center to give investor businesses the opportunity to understand each candidate’s position on issues that affect the economy including business climate, workforce, and quality of life.
Forty-five business leaders and community members attended the forum. Specific topics raised included: the “ban the box’ proposal that would require employers and landlords to remove questions about felony convictions from initial applications, public safety, the Waterloo Regional Airport, University Avenue, the Hwy. 63/Logan Plaza corridor, and economic development tools and assets.
“The Alliance & Chamber serves as the one voice for business in the region. We advocate for the concerns of business at the local, state, and national level. We provide opportunities for education on issues, interaction with officials, and encourage our investors to participate in the process,” says Steve Dust, CEO of the Alliance & Chamber. “These candidate forums are designed for our investors to become better informed during a very busy legislative and election year.”
All five candidates participated in the Waterloo Forum including: City Councilman Quentin Hart; former three-term mayor Tim Hurley; Black Hawk County Supervisor Frank Magsamen; business owner and member of the city’s Planning, Programming and Zoning Commission Leah Morrison; and business owner Wayne Nathem.
Each of the mayoral candidates made a brief opening statement. Moderator Mike Mc Crary Chair of the Alliance & Chamber Government Relations Committee, then directed questions from the audience to the candidates.
In his opening statement Quentin Hart –outlined his five point platform focused on safer streets, economic development, neighborhood empowerment, creating a positive image and a 2025 vision plan for the future. He sees University Avenue as an opportunity to grow business. He points to the completed projects along the Hwy. 63 corridor and stresses an equal approach to economic development and redevelopment throughout the city. Hart cites the level of education of our people as the city’s number one economic development asset.
Tim Hurley cast his vision for Waterloo as “a city where capital, people and business come and want to stay.” He would accomplish this through strong economic development, efficient delivery of city services, and improved city image. If elected Hurley would strive to negotiate a fair price with the DOT and others on the transfer of University Avenue and its modernization. While Hurley would not “mess with TIF” he would examine how its use in the Crossroads retail area. Waterloo’s legacy of making products and the work ethic of its population are on his list of economic development strengths.
Hart and Hurley both acknowledge the need for a full-time economic developer to increase business growth and expansion.
Frank Magsamen described his goal to hire a professional city manager as seen in many large Iowa communities, moving away from the current mayor-led form of government. He sees University Avenue as a long-term project requiring more study. Magsamen believes existing business expansion is the best opportunity for economic growth. He also suggests limiting Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) to 10 years. He considers the quality and quantity of water as one of Waterloo’s key economic development strength.
Wayne Nathem says his military and business background prepared him to lead the city. He would examine each department to cut costs. Nathem is adamantly opposed to roundabouts citing they ‘increase response time for emergency vehicles. He is also opposed to bike lanes and feels pedestrians are not a major concern on University Ave. He suggests a stronger relationship with Iowa Economic Development Authority to increase new business investment in Waterloo.
The basis of Leah Morrison’s message is in lowering taxes, lowering the levy rate, and limiting the use of TIF. She stresses the importance of having all stakeholders involved in University Avenue decision-making. Morrison suggests an “all hands on deck” approach to redevelop Logan Plaza, an area where she would support a generous use of TIF. She would like to position Waterloo as a convention hub which in turn would increase traffic at the airport.
All candidates agree that the mayor’s office should support and equip law enforcement and that collaboration of community organizations needs to increase to make Waterloo safer. Building trust between the people and law enforcement is a priority of all candidates.
Hurley is the lone candidate who opposes the current ‘ban the box’ proposal stating that process should slow down in order to hear from the business and professional community.
(Read more on this in Tim Jamison’s Courier article here)
Investors have the opportunity to meet the Cedar Falls candidates in a similar forum on Friday, Oct. 23, at 7:30am at the Cedar Falls Visitors Center.
For more information on the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and their Government Relations activities, go to www.cedarvalleyalliance.com or contact Steve Dust at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 319-232-1156.